The American diet has changed over the past 100 years. We are consuming more processed foods and fewer vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This shift has decreased our intake of certain nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium, to the point of becoming a public health concern, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
However, despite eschewing many natural sources of vital nutrients in favor of processed foods, Americans are aware of the need for vitamins and minerals for their overall health and wellness. In fact, according to a Lesaffre Corporation survey of 1,045 U.S. consumers, 80 percent of people make a conscious decision to incorporate vitamins and minerals in their diets, either through food or supplements.
Consumers Seeking Nutrition
With health-conscious consumers seeking higher levels of select nutrients, it becomes more critical for a variety of foods to supply strong nutritional value (see Fig. 1 for data on the top nutrients consumers seek and how they hope to obtain them). Fortified foods—items with added vitamins or minerals to improve their nutritional value—support consumers in these choices. With 80 percent of people making a conscious choice to incorporate vitamins or minerals in their diets, according to Lesaffre research, the time is right for new products incorporating this technology.
Many Americans don’t get enough calcium, even though 93 percent are aware of the nutrient as important to human health. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates that males aged nine to 13 and over 70 and females aged nine to 18 and over 50 show an inadequacy in calcium consumption.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, found mostly in the bones and teeth. The body uses bone tissue as a reservoir and source of calcium to maintain a constant concentration of calcium in the blood, muscles, and intercellular fluids. While the primary function of calcium is bone health, it also plays a role in nerve transmission, blood clotting, muscle contraction, fat digestion, and metabolism.
For most Americans, the primary source of calcium in the diet is dairy. However, as much as 65 percent of the world population has some level of lactose intolerance as adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. Especially for individuals of East Asian descent, unfermented dairy is not an option as a calcium source. Calcium from some plant sources is well-absorbed by the body, but consuming enough of these sources without dairy to meet daily calcium recommendations is unrealistic for many. Generally, adults should consume 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day, though the recommendations vary depending on gender and age.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 43 percent of the U.S. population takes a dietary supplement that contains calcium. Additionally, Lesaffre research shows that it is the third most popular nutrient that people believe they need more of in their diets. This makes it uniquely desirable in fortified foods.
Calcium Fortification for Brand Differentiation
Fortifying applications with calcium helps baking, snack, and confectionery brands stand out with health-conscious consumers. According to a Mintel study, Americans are looking for a balance between health and indulgence. As consumers seek foods that bridge that gap, food brands have to respond with products that taste good and are good for you.
With food allergies—including dairy—on the rise, parents are seeking opportunities to give their children nutrients through nontraditional means. According to the CDC, food allergy rates among children in the United States have increased by more than 18% since 1997. For those who have children who don’t like or can’t tolerate milk, calcium-fortified baked goods can be a lifesaver. Calcium-fortified breads are especially great for picky eaters, since the calcium does not change the flavor and texture of the product.
Lesaffre’s patented AccentTM technology fortifies baked goods and snacks with glass-of-milk levels of calcium, without changing the eating experience. This presents baking and snack brands with a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, which is an especially exciting prospect given the current state of the industry, as more people reduce their consumption of refined sugars.
For food processing or foodservice brands, Lesaffre technology can deliver benefits ranging from extending the eating qualities of a bun or biscuit over a longer time to adding a glass-of-milk level of calcium to a sandwich roll, flatbread, or pita. Adding a nutritionally focused application to the product line or menu can attract new customers to the brand or make a restaurant appealing to a wider swath of the market, including families with specific dietary needs.
The addition of high levels of calcium to bread products requires formulation expertise, since great care needs to be taken to ensure that the eating qualities of the bread remain the same. Lesaffre’s Accent calcium fortification technology delivers a high dose of calcium while retaining the desirable eating experience consumers expect from their baked goods and snacks.
Providing formulators and marketers with flexibility to improve claims in snacks and baked goods, Lesaffre’s Accent technology helps differentiate brands with added appeal. By developing a deep understanding of your desired product outcome and manufacturing environment, Lesaffre helps create solutions uniquely tailored to your operating conditions and performance needs.
For more information on Lesaffre’s Accent technology for calcium fortification, call 1-800-770-2714.